The Effects of Preeclampsia and How to Prevent It

Posted on June 14, 2009. Filed under: Pre eclampsia, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Brewer Diet | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Preeclampsia is a disorder that only occurs during pregnancy and just after in the postpartum period. It can affect both the mother and the unborn baby and is estimated to affect between 5-8% of pregnancies. It can be very dangerous and it along with some related disorders are responsible for about 76,000 maternal deaths and 500,000 infant deaths per year. It is not something to mess around with.

The symptoms of preeclampsia are high blood pressure, presence of protein in the urine, sudden weight gain, headaches, swelling and blurred vision. It is typically rapidly progressing which is why when a woman’s blood pressure is higher than what her normal has been during the pregnancy, the care providers tend to start watching closely.

Preeclampsia is most common in the first pregnancy. The risk factors for preeclampsia are:
Previous history of preeclampsia, particularly if onset is before the third trimester
History of chronic high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney disorder
Family history of the disorder (i.e., a mother, sister, grandmother or aunt who had the disorder)
Women with greater than 30% Body Mass Index (BMI).
Multiple gestation
Over 40 or under 18 years of age
Polycystic ovarian syndrome
Lupus or other autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis or MS.

The chances of having preeclampsia in a second pregnancy are kind of vague. According to preeclampsia.org:

” If I had preeclampsia in my first or an earlier pregnancy…

There has not been significant research looking at the rate of reoccurrence in subsequent pregnancies, however the consensus among experts is that preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy is the single largest risk factor for developing preeclampsia. It is entirely wrong to say that if you had it in your first–you will not get it again. The risk of having it again is approximately 20%, however experts cite a range from 5-80% depending on when you had it in a prior pregnancy and how severely you had it.

The risk increases if since your previous pregnancy you have developed chronic hypertension, diabetes, or if you are having IVF, twins or other multiples, as well as the risk factors mentioned above.”

Often times women are given magnesium sulfate to prevent preeclampsia from becoming full on eclampsia (seizures and possible stroke). With severe preeclampsia, women are given the magnesium sulfate while still pregnant. Because preeclampsia is the largest known cause of prematurity in the U.S., treatment with magnesium sulfate often buys enough time to administer steroids to strengthen the babies lungs.

The side affects of magnesium are:
# Flushing
# Nausea
# Vomiting
# Palpitations
# Headache
# General muscle weakness
# Lethargy
# Constipation

The risks of magnesium sulfate are:
# Cardiac arrest
# Pulmonary edema (lungs fill with fluid; can be fatal)
# Chest pain
# Cardiac conduction defects
# Low blood pressure
# Low calcium
# Increased urinary calcium
# Visual disturbances
# Decreased bone density
# Respiratory depression (difficulty breathing)
# Muscular hyperexcitability

The risks to the baby are:
# Hypocalcemia
# Hypercalcemia
# Motor depression
# Decreased muscle tone and drowsiness
# Respiratory depression
# Meconium ileus
# Long bone demineralization
# Congenital rickets
# Radiographic bone changes
# Neuromuscular blockade with gentamicin
# Marked hypotension with nifedipine

In short, it’s nasty, mean stuff (even meaner than pitocin for all you ladies who got a kick out me calling pit nasty and mean)

If you had preeclampsia in your first pregnancy (especially if you had magnesium!) you are probably wondering if there are ways to prevent it in subsequent pregnancies. There is contradictory information on this. Some doctors say you can’t prevent it, some say you can. There aren’t too many ways to say that you can’t prevent it so I guess I don’t have to go into detail with that. I will explore possible ways to prevent it. The way I see it is if the potential prevention methods won’t hurt, why not try?

It has been suggested that increasing dietary fiber can prevent preeclampsia. The study suggests that out of 383 women, the ones who consumed more than 24 grams of fiber a day (the top 25% for consumption) has a 51% reduction in the risk for preeclampsia. So go eat some fiber ladies!!! Your body will thank you in more ways than one;)

Dr. Tom Brewer also claims that with the Brewer Diet, preeclampsia can be prevented. On the website it says…

“It’s not genetics. It’s not random. The cause is NOT unknown. Toxemia CAN be stopped. PreeclampsiaA-toxic-condition-developing-in-late-pre… CAN be stopped. Best of all, YOU can stop it!

HOW? All the scientific research being done on toxemia and preeclampsia these days is focusing on treatment, and none of it is promising. But the research has already been done, many times and many ways in the past 50+ years, and we know that you can PREVENT this from happening to you in the first place, no matter what your personal history may be. The simple answer? GOOD NUTRITION.

Common sense tells you to eat right when you’re pregnant, and traditional wisdom says you’re “eating for two“. So why are doctors telling you to cut out salt, avoid gaining too much weight, and giving you little or no information about what IS a good diet for pregnancy? Why is the medical community so disinterested in this information? As one doctor put it, “No one is going to make any money off good nutrition.”

The simple prevention methods are to be sure to drink lots of water, avoid alcohol and caffeine.

Exercise has also been suggested as a prevention method. Basically, exercise improves circulation which in turns improves blood pressure.

Speaking of exercise, stretching exercises may be more effective at reducing the risk of preeclampsia than walking is for pregnant women who have already experienced the condition and who do not follow a workout routine, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing. So get some prenatal yoga videos and go for it!

Other possible prevention methods are:

* Before becoming pregnant, ask your doctor to perform a thorough evaluation of your blood pressure and kidney function.
* If you or a close relative had vein or lung blood clots before, ask your doctor about testing you for clotting abnormalities (thrombophilias ). These genetic defects increase your risk for preeclampsia and placental blood clots.
* If you are obese, consider weight loss.. Weight reduction may decrease your risk of developing preeclampsia again.
* If you have insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, good control of your blood sugars before becoming pregnant and early in pregnancy reduces your risk for having preeclampsia again.

The prevention of preeclampsia has been the focus of multiple clinical trials. The following medications and supplements have been extensively studied for their potential to prevent preeclampsia:

* calcium (for example, Os-Cal);
* fish oil supplements (for example, Promega);
* supplements with vitamins C and E; and
* baby aspirin (for example, Ecotrin Adult Low Strength).

However, large studies have not shown calcium supplementation, baby aspirin, or fish oil supplementation to be beneficial in preventing preeclampsia. Early studies with vitamins C and E show a possible beneficial effect, but larger studies should be conducted before these agents can be broadly recommended. .

So, what do I think (for what it’s worth, right?)? I think that if it’s not going to cause any harm then try it! If it were me I would:

Get tested for thrombolphilias (I am biased, I have a blood clotting disorder but still if you can treat that and maybe prevent PE, go for it!)

Follow the Brewer diet as best I could
Exercise: walking and prenatal yoga daily
Lose any extra weight before getting pregnant again
Eat lots of fiber (but if you are doing Brewer’s you probably already are)
Drink lots of water (I read one 1/2 ounce per lb of body weight)
Make sure to get lots of calcium and vitamin C

Good luck all you mamas who had it round one. I wish you all the best for round two;)

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24 Responses to “The Effects of Preeclampsia and How to Prevent It”

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Good info. I was lucky to have low blood pressure during pregnancy rather than toxemia that my mom developed with me and preeclampsia with my younger brother. My high school bf died of undiagnosed toxemia and another friend lost her baby to preeclampsia. It is scary stuff and we need to educate ourselves! Thanks, Amy.

It has been suggested that PE, toxemia, HELLP, and PIH are hereditary. I would take all the precaution you can in subsequent pregnancies. That is very sad about your friends. I developed toxemia in high school after a misdiagnosed case of cellulitis went on too long and almost died. I spent two weeks in the hospital, it was rough.

Diet and exercise can’t prevent every case of every pregnancy-related complication, but it sure can improve your odds. As you wrote in your previous post, most doctors focus on weight gain instead of nutrition and it makes no sense.

On another topic, I ran into one of the two women that I know about who had homebirths on Yongsan. She said Dr. Chung was awesome and helped her breathe the baby out instead of pushing so she didn’t tear (Like she did with her other four deliveries). She also got reimbursed for the homebirth. Since she is on post, I am assuming she used Tricare.

You are so right and since diet and exercise are something that we do have control over we should make every effort to do the best we can with both.

I have a friend down at Yongsan that knows that woman Dr. Chung attended. She said the same thing about breathing the baby out. Isn’t it amazing how a simple change in the way a care provider does something can make such a huge difference. I was told that she didn’t need the first stitch.

As for Tricare, yes, they will pay for a homebirth. I do believe it’s 80% but since most homebirth midwives are between $2000-4000 (well, American midwives, I have to assume that Dr. Chung and the Korean midwives are less), the 20% left to pay out of pocket is still affordable. I am so proud of these women taking control of their births and doing it on their term!

Korean midwives are between 600,000 and 1,200,000 won from what I have been told for a homebirth. I’ve heard Dr. Chung is 3,000,000 won for a homebirth. Korean birth center, births can be even less but Korean hospital births can be a lot more.

I think if we are still here for baby#3, I am going to try to get Dr. Chung to attend me at home for my 2VBAC!

I so hope you do it too! If I have a successful VBAC with #2, I will be homebirthing as well. I am so happy that Dr. Chung is out there doing all this amazing work.

[...] Labor Swelling Blood Pressure Pre-eclampsia HELLP/Hemorrhage Mistaken Diagnoses IUGR Underweight Babies Obesity Anemias Gestational Diabetes [...]

This is just to let you-all know that the address for my website (“The Dr. Brewer Pregnancy Diet”) is changing. During the transition, the website will be available through both the old address and the new one, for awhile. The new address is….

http://www.drbrewerpregnancydiet.com/

Also, just FYI, your links to the Blue Ribbon Baby website are no longer working.

Best wishes,
Joy

Thanks for the Info. I am going to be 2nd time Mom soon. When i think about preeclampsia or Magnesium sulfate, it scares the hell out of me. I will follow the brewers diet. Hope to not to get this again!. Good luck for other Moms who are on the same boat !

suba, did you work at nestle?

I have had preeclampsia 3x I am currently expecting my fourth and have NEVER been given this information even when I have begged for info on avoiding it! I have had both pitocin and magnesium in each labor/delivery and it S*CKS!! I am hoping yet again for a more natural labor and delivery! I will try all your tips and report back after L&D!

you mentioned to have had preclampsia 3x, may i ask, was it at the end or were any of your children premature due to this? mine was at 32 weeks and i want to give him a sibling but i just can’t go through this again

Um, not being grammar police or anything, but I think you meant to use the word “Effects” not “Affects”

Great info and would love to share it once you correct the grammar mistake in the title.

i have two kids and with both i had preeclamsia.

i just lost my baby to this at 29 weeks from the sounds of how severe i had it im lucky to be alive. 75k of women arnt that lucky? why dont they take this more seriously when they 1st see the signs. if the only cure is to have the baby? within 3 days of them noticing my baby died and i could have 2.

PE is terrible, i have lost 2 pregnancies. 1 at 38 weeks (still born)and 1 at 32 weeks. i canot begin to describe how terrible this is. Life!!

I am a mother of 6 children. I never had Pre-eclampsia with my first 4 pregnancys on my 5th, 48 hours after I delivered the baby the day I was to leave the hospital. I woke up with a massive headache the nurse took my blood pressure and told me to get back into bed then she hooked me up to the Magnisum, that stuff is HORRIBLE! But boy was i skinny after:) i think i lost 21 lbs in 3 days. but Made me feel worse then I have ever felt. 3 days later they finally let me out of the hospital. My 6th pregnancy I also developed it i was in and out of the hospital for weeks and then had to deliver early 35 weeks, but no mag. I am going into my 7th pregnancy, lost some weight prior to pregnancy but was never able to get off the blood pressure meds and water pills from the 6th. I am hoping exercise and my diet will prevent me from the in and out of the hospital again and possible prevent it all together. I wanted to comment because it really can happen any pregnancy. In my 4 first pregnancys the only symptom I had was slightly elevated bp during the last couple of weeks and during delivery. I consider that my precursors of what was comming. Also with my 5 and 6 th pregnancys the doctors kept asking if I had a different husband (I didn’t,). But I asked why that mattered. They said that they will have women with normal pregnancys with one man and then a second husband and she will develope Pre-e. I thought it wierd but it might be some good info for someone else. Thanks for the Artical.

Apparently the longer you are sexual with a man, the less likely you are to develop preeclampsia. Something to do with your body being used to his DNA? I think?

I lost my baby because of PE. Terrible nightmare.

i lost two babies due to this condition of PE. pls help me out.

good information on preeclampsia

I had preeclampsia with my first….The scariest time of my life…I had to deliver…only 5 months pregnet…it was a boy…i had two ciesures while pregnet…he only lived a month an two weeks..now that im thinking about trying again im scared it will happen again…i lost my first child back in 2008….can anyone sugest anything todo before i try again….or what i can do to prevent it from happening again while pregnet?

Thank you for this information! I was treated with magnesium sulfate with my first pregnancy when I developed pre-eclampsia. I was not told the side effects and wish I had been! I am lucky that I did not have any side effects except lethargy and my baby girl didn’t seem to suffer any side effects either. I got pre-e with my second as well but was not treated with anything since I was already in labor. Now with my third pregnancy I am being constantly reminded that I will likely get pre-e again with this pregnancy. It drives me crazy! They act as if I already have it, testing me all the time and telling me what to eat or not eat. So far my BP has remained low and there are no signs of me getting it but I tend to get it over night so I just hope that I am doing all I can to keep it from happening again. I exercise four to five times a week, eat healthy and take calcium and magnesium supplements. I was recently told to keep my sodium intake below 1500 which I think is absurd but I am trying to keep sodium intake at decent levels. I am also drinking at least 10 cups of water a day. Hoping to avoid a third episode of pre-e!


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